Russia says Nord Stream 2 testing work to start next week

Gazprom workers sit in front of the screen with the Nord Stream 2 Pipeline and the logo of Russian gas company Gazprom during the 20th International Exhibition for Equipment and Technologies for the Oil and Gas Industries 'Neftegaz' in Moscow, Russia, 26 April 2021. [EPA-EFE/SERGEI ILNITSKY]

Testing work on Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Germany will start next week, Alexander Drozdenko, governor of the Leningrad region where the pipeline starts, was cited as saying by the TASS news agency on Wednesday (2 June).

The United States last month waived sanctions on the company behind the pipeline to Germany and its chief executive, a move decried by critics of the project in the US Congress, but welcomed this week by the Kremlin.

US waives sanctions on Nord Stream 2 as Biden seeks to mend Europe ties

The Biden administration waived sanctions on the company behind Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday (19 May), a move decried by critics of the project in Congress.

The project, led by Gazprom with its Western partners, aims to deliver Russian gas to Germany under the Baltic Sea, but has long been opposed by Washington which says it would dangerously increase Moscow’s regional clout.

The pipeline would bypass Ukraine, potentially depriving it of lucrative transit revenues at a time when Kyiv is locked in a confrontation with Moscow though the Kremlin says it would continue to use Ukraine as a gas transit country.

“Yesterday there was an inspection of Russian facilities. ..which will start working in a test regime from next week in preparation for sending gas to the German side,” TASS cited Drozdenko as saying.

Nord Stream 2 said it could not provide new information.

As of 31 March, 95% of the pipeline was built, it said.

“We are not in a position to deliver construction details at this point and will inform you about further planning, as well as updated pipe lay status in due time,” Nord Stream 2 said in emailed comments to Reuters.

Drozdenko was cited as saying he had met representatives from the project’s German side on Wednesday.

“We were just discussing that the project has reached the final stretch,” he said.

German climate protection group Deutsche Umwelthilfe said on Wednesday it had applied for Nord Stream 2’s construction and operating permit to be revoked in Germany on climate protection grounds, based on a verdict from Germany’s top constitutional court.

The court forced Germany earlier this month to tighten its climate law after plaintiffs, including North Sea islanders fearing rising sea levels, challenged a 2019 climate law.

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